A HUNDRED black-owned businesses from the Eastern Cape last week celebrated their new status as Broad-Based Black Economic Empowerment (B-BBEE) Level 1 certificate holders after completing a scorecard improvement programme facilitated by Coega.
Many of the participants had hovered between Level 3 and 4, not knowing that some of the activities they were involved in could score them additional B-BBEE points and push them to a higher level.
Now, they have achieved Level 1 status, allowing them to compete against bigger, better resourced and more established companies when bidding for public and private sector jobs, boosting their chances of getting work.
“When you bid in a state tender you bid on price and empowerment. Empowerment indicates your B-BBEE status,” said Andile Ntloko, Coega Development Corporation (CDC) unit head for small, micro, medium enterprise (SMME) development.
“What we have done is show smaller black-owned businesses how they can realise their potential and move to Level 1 status to competitively bid for work both on price and empowerment.”
Ntloko said that of the 100 participants, 65% of the companies were owned by black women, 50% by youth and 70% operate in the construction industry, a “testament to Coega’s commitment to ensuring women and young people benefit from our programmes”.
Over 80% of the participants came from the Nelson Mandela Bay region, but the programme has traction across the Eastern Cape, with plans afoot to ramp up participation in the next round to 300 companies operating across the province.
“There is a desperate need to assist exclusively black-owned companies as it’s very costly to get certified and can cost a business between R3000 and R8000,” Ntloko said.
“As a result Coega decided to invest and provide free certification to selected businesses. Coega has invested more than R450 000 in this programme as we see major value in empowering black business. We are proud that we have made a difference to these companies. They can now open the door to opportunity and become more competitive.”
The Nelson Mandela Bay Municipality (NMBM) represented by Councillor Babalwa Lobishe, Mayoral Committee Portfolio Chairperson Economic Development, Tourism and Agriculture, delivered the key note address and outlined the importance of the programme to SMMEs in accessing opportunities in the formal and private sector.
“This programme will give you the competitive edge that is required by various industries that SMMEs are involved in and as the municipality we hope you will take advantage of this and run with it,” Lobishe said.
“We can turnaround our city to become a much better city. The economy is growing and Coega, in partnership with the municipality, is going the extra mile to ensure that we attract investment,” Lobishe said adding there will soon be a meeting to future discuss opportunities for black-owned business.
“These efforts have led to a positive outlook of the region and have had a positive influence in investment and other business opportunities.”
Business-owner Ntombekhaya Gunuza, who operates Shadow Bricks from Engcobo and East London, said she was “stuck at level 3 for some time”.
“It’s quite an achievement, I didn’t think something like this could ever happen and it’s going to be the key to opening a lot of doors. Small business boosts the economy and without it government will not survive, for example, I employ about 60 people who now all contribute to the economy because they have buying power.”
Gunuza said it was tough operating in the construction industry where women don’t demand a lot of respect or are undermined, but that the new Level 1 status makes her competitive and more determined to prove herself.
Claire Kivedo, co-owner of Overall Events, said the new status has enabled her business to become more sustainable. “I didn’t realise the work I was doing and the giving back to communities could actually help raise our BEE level. It’s really rewarding to know that hard work is paying off. I can now compete, joint venture and share the love when it comes to work.”
Wani Toyana, who owns Otjiwarongo Projects, a bulk vegetation and landscaping company, said the Level 1 certification would help as a job creation tool. “My excitement in achieving this is not just for me, but means better opportunities within the company and means more jobs,” he said, adding that his company employed three people permanently and 10 on a temporary basis.
Dignitaries and the 100 SMMEs attended a ceremony to mark the finalisation of the B-BBEE authentication process last Wednesday [19 March], with Nelson Mandela Bay Business Chamber (NMBBC) president Mandla Madwara commending the business-owners as “risk takers” that would contribute to the local economy.
Madwara said the CDC was assisting in helping small business negotiate the “onerous B-BBEE scorecard process” and was also setting the standard and scene from which the NMBBC’s enterprise development programme could flourish, adding that the city needed small business.
“If you are thinking of leaving PE, think twice. Right now where you are you can see that investments are here and investments are coming,” he said mentioning developments in the Coega industrial development zone and around the city, including DCD Wind Towers, Agni Steels, Air Products and Afrox, the Bay West Mall and the proposed waterfront development.
Coega now has a valid and active pool of 100% blacked-owned companies it can tap into for a range of services.
“We can also alert them of opportunities derived from investment activity. All the companies now need to do is sharpen their pencils when it comes to price, as they have B-BBEE in hand,” said Ntloko.